Panthers head to Florida for Spring Break games
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University softball team will head to Florida next week to open the 2013 campaign, playing 11 games in seven days against 11 different teams during the team's annual season-opening trip to the Sunshine State.
Plymouth State returns this season to the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla., just outside Orlando. PSU will meet the College of New Jersey in the opener on Saturday, Mar. 16, followed by two games a day on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (Mar. 17-22).
|Head Coach Bruce Addison|
PSU has 28 more games on tap back in New England, including 14 Little East Conference affairs. The LEC opener is a doubleheader on Saturday, Mar. 30, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and the first of 12 home games at D&M Park are slated for Wednesday, April 10, vs. Lyndon State College.
The regular season wraps up by the end of April, with the top six teams advancing to the annual LEC Tournament the first week in May. The Little East Tournament champion will be crowned on May 4, and will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament.
2013 PSU Softball Outlook
Head coach Bruce Addison welcomes back 10 veterans to this year's squad, including four All-Conference players and all but one starter. The Panthers have added six newcomers for what they hope will be a strong season.
PSU won 16 of its last 24 games last season, winding up at 21-21 overall and fourth place in the LEC with a 7-7 mark. Addison is hoping last spring's strong finish will springboard this year's squad.
"We want to keep the momentum going," said Addison. We have a better understanding of what kind of team we can be, and we showed we can play with the top teams. If we can avoid the slow start we had last year, we'll be in better shape when we come back from Florida."
In addition to four All-Conference players in the line-up, PSU returns its entire pitching staff as well as adding some new members. Addison likes the flexibility with the added depth, with the challenge being figuring out the rotion.
"We have a lot of kids who field their position pretty well, so we should be strong defensively," said Addison, "but the pitching and defense go hand in hand. If the kids throw strikes and rely on their teammates behind them, we'll get quality results."
The Panther line-up is dotted with veteran All-Stars. Junior Bekah Jackson (Nashua, N.H./North) returns after earning LEC Rookie of the Year and First Team All-LEC honors at shortstop. She batted .431 with 62 hits, 15 doubles, five home runs, 25 stolen bases and 45 runs scored. Jackson set six single-season school records at the plate last year and should again be one of the top players in the conference.
Senior designated player Jenn Bove (Medford, Mass.) and junior C/1B Sam Hebert (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) earned All-LEC First honors in 2012, and junior IF Jackie Digman (Burlington, Mass.) was an All-LEC Second Team selection. Digman is coming off an outstanding season, surpassing previous school records for hits and runs but finishing behind Jackson. She batted .418 with 56 hits, 15 doubles, six home runs, 31 RBI and 37 runs scored. Hebert hit .354 with 11 doubles and a school-record 38 RBI, and Bove helped set the table, batting .306 with 11 stolen bases and 32 runs scored.
Other returning starters for PSU include senior 2B Calli DeGrace (Plymouth, N.H./Plymouth Regional), sophomore OF Cynthia Barata (New Fairfield, Conn.), and junior 1B/C Taylor Mancini (Gansevoort, N.Y./South Glens Falls). Junior OF Shannon Murphy (Chester, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) is also a returnee and should help out.
Newcomers to the line-up include freshman Vanessa Przybylo (Queensbury, N.Y.), who is making a run at the third base job, freshman Julia Royer (Pawcatuck, Conn./Stonington), who can fill in at several infield postions, and sophomore Sam Madore (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Eastern), a reserve at third base. Sophomore Whitney Roberts (Chocorua, N.H./Kennett) and freshman Shirley Butterfield (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane) could see action in the Panther outfield.
The Panthers will look to junior Nora Galvin (Windham, N.H./Salem) to lead the pitching staff. Galvin topped the team with 11 wins last season, posting 96 strikeouts in 122 innings. Barata and senior Ali Keith (Northfield, N.H./Winnisquam) are also solid returnees who will contribute to the staff after combining on eight wins last spring. Przybylo and Roberts, like Barata, can also pitch when they're not playing the field, and freshman Sara Gaudet (Londonderry, N.H.) is also available.
"We've always had high expectations, and we do again this year," said Addison. "Talent-wise, I think we have a better team than we had last year. We should be one of the main teams in the LEC. We want to compete to finish in the top tier during the regular season, and be playing well heading into the tournament."
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